Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa takes home prestigious sustainable tourism award
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Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa was awarded the world’s most prestigious sustainable tourism award by the global Skal International tourism body.
The 2020 Skal International Sustainable Tourism Awards was held virtually on Saturday, October 17, 2020.
Aquila was previously awarded the 2014 National Lilizela Imvelo Award for best economic impact by a large tourism establishment in South Africa, and the 2015 National Lilizela Imvelo Award for sustainable development.
Western Cape Premier Alan Winde congratulated Aquila Game Reserve for this international award.
"It comes at a time when we are working hard to promote our tourism sector both locally and internationally. Tourism is a major job creator in our province and making this sector more sustainable will help to create and preserve jobs in the long term," he said.
CEO of Cape Town Tourism, Enver Duminy said the Aquila team have gone to great lengths to ensure that the reserve exceeds the minimum requirements for responsible tourism.
"This award also further solidifies the Cape Town region as a sustainable and responsible destination," he said.
Searl Derman, the owner of Aquila Private Game Reserve, called the achievement an honour.
"It is an honour to receive global recognition for the sustainable tourism efforts we make in Cape Town. Being the only South African recipient at the 2020 awards ceremony, we are proud to once again be able to shine the light on our ongoing projects and initiatives to enhance sustainable tourism, job creation, social upliftment, conservation and natural resource management efforts.
"We fought extra hard to support our teams, our business, social upliftment and conservation efforts during the pandemic. This international accolade inspires us to continue pushing hard and working day and night on our recovery efforts to ensure we have a business and welcome guests back to experience the dedication and heartfelt efforts of all our staff at our Big 5 Safari lodge just outside of Cape Town," he said.
The local community of Touws River is extremely important to Aquila Private Game Reserve & Spa.
This former railway town is situated 12km from the Big 5 game reserve and was left in poverty when the former railway services closed down leaving approximately 97 percent of its 15 000 residents unemployed.
Over the last 21 years, Aquila has empowered the local residents through employment and upskilling, while the business operation also enabled flourishing supporting small businesses.
“Our social involvement programmes together with our conservation efforts, like Saving Private Rhino, is proud of the work we achieve. We do this work selflessly. We most certainly do not do them for the awards, but we appreciate the honour we have to stand on the world stage as we try every day, to make the world a better place through tourism.” added Searl Derman.